Research Finds Companies Reshaping Work Strategies to Succeed in Gig Economy

Ardent Partners report, co-sponsored by SAP Fieldglass, tracks growth, evolution of Contingent Workforce Management sector

Chicago - October 24, 2016

Nearly two thirds of all businesses are actively reshaping how work is completed across the enterprise, blending a mix of contingent workers and payrolled employees to better leverage talent as a business differentiator, according to a research report released today. The report, “The State of Contingent Workforce Management 2016-2017: Adapting to a New World of Work,” was produced by Ardent Partners and co-sponsored by SAP Fieldglass, the global cloud technology leader in services procurement and external workforce management.

According to the research, 63 percent of organizations are rethinking how work is addressed – ranking it as the top adaptation strategy currently being deployed in the shifting business and talent engagement environment. This transformation in executive thinking digs into the core of every corporate project and initiative, allowing for projects to be handled by a broader and more diverse collection of talent, including freelancers, independent contractors and gig workers, the report said.

“As workers seek more flexibility and employers embrace agility in all facets of their organizations, contingent work will exert more and more influence over companies’ success,” said Arun Srinivasan, senior vice president of strategy and customer operations for SAP Fieldglass. “And as we head toward a fundamental shift in the composition of the workforce, companies will need to continue to adopt new strategies and integrate new technologies to engage external talent and turn it into a true business differentiator.”

According to the Ardent report, the size of the contingent workforce continues to grow – accounting for nearly 38 percent of all workers in 2016, up from nearly 35 percent in 2015 and about 29 percent in 2011.

“Across the world, the traditional notions of labor, work, and talent are being altered. Internal enterprise functions are reshaping their talent management initiatives, understanding that the very concept of ‘contingent labor’ does not mean what it used to,” Ardent Partners Research Director Christopher J. Dwyer wrote in the report. “If 2015 was the tipping point for the contingent workforce’s growth and evolution, then 2016 is the year that the ‘gig economy’ propels it to new heights.”

The 2016 version of the annual Ardent report on contingent workforce management trends surveyed employers on the ways they were adapting to the “new world of work,” how the future of work is impacting contingent workforce operations now and in the future, and how Ardent’s “Best-in-Class” performers deploy workforce strategies.

Findings include the following:

Best-in-Class CWM companies deploy a variety of strategies to outpace the general market.

Best-in-Class companies excel in real-time visibility into spend- and supplier-led aspects of CWM (68 percent vs. 25 percent for all others), conduct regular reviews of worker and enterprise relationships (74 percent vs. 49 percent), leverage VMS platforms (72 percent vs. 46 percent), and maintain comprehensive onboarding and offboarding processes (79 percent vs. 55 percent).

Real-time sourcing is the top strategy for talent engagement.

Overall, 71 percent of businesses are leveraging social, mobile and online talent networks to discover new talent. Other popular strategies include increased hiring of “senior candidates” for contract roles (67 percent), targeting millennials as a prime source of skill sets (65 percent) and formalizing a companywide “agile talent” acquisition strategy (61 percent).

Cost savings is no longer the top driver for executing a contingent workforce management program.

Several years ago, the report said, costs (currently at 32 percent) would have placed ahead of talent engagement (51 percent) on the priority scale. As the gig economy continues its rapid expansion, discovering new talent and managing compliance (62 percent) have taken on more important roles.

As the gig economy takes shape, businesses will generate value leveraging an evolving “non-employee workforce technology ecosystem.”

Core traditional platforms such as Vendor Management Systems (VMS) and Managed Service Provider (MSP) networks provide a “centralized source of truth” to control and manage all forms of non-employee talent. Overall, 72 percent of organizations believe such an ecosystem effectively addresses talent, spend, supplier and quality aspects of non-employee workforce management.

Download the report here